US Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) calls for “Caving Moratorium”

May 15, 2009 Posted in Newsroom, Press Releases

There is a disease that is devastating hibernating bat colonies in this region. Not much is known about this except the presence of a white fungus on the muzzle and wing membrane of infected bats. This is why it is called "White Nose Syndrome" (WNS). It is suspected that WNS is transmitted from one habernacle to another from both bat to bat, and cave to human to bat.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has called for a "Caving Moratorium" in 17 states in the northeastern U.S. Please refer to their web site for more current information http://www.fws.gov/northeast/white_nose.html. U.S. Forest Service, Eastern Region (http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/) Deputy Regional Forester Logan Lee signed an emergency closure order for all caves and mines on NFS lands in the Eastern Region in response to white nose syndrome affecting endangered bat species. As a result many wild caves have been shut down to recreational caving till a solution can be found. The NSS and the caving community in generally are supporting this caving moratorium. They are also asking all youth groups to refrain from any underground activities until the moratorium is lifted.

Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania is passing this information to ask families and volunteers to monitor theNational Speleological Society's WNS web site for up to date information before planning any underground activities. Many reputable cavers and outfitters will not be guiding caving trips because of WNS.

TheNSS has a pamphlet, What's Killing Our Bats that's available in a "pdf" for download and distribution. Girl Scouts can use the brochure for their own informational purposes or assist in distributing it throughout the community to help let everyone know the importance of bats and to let them know what they can do to help.

If you have any questions, please contactnssyouth@caves.org.

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